If you follow patent litigation news, the name "Lodsys" has the same kind of weight as, say, Kim Jong Un or Robert Ford: when you see it, you just know something crazy is going on. But it looks like the legendary patent troll has fallen on hard times, as its website domain has been allowed to expire. The domain is currently being held by Register.com, which has not re-listed it for sale.
The short version of this story is that Tse Ho Keung, holder of a patent that is currently within an inch of its life, has so far failed to get any traction in lawsuits against major tech companies (...and Blockbuster), and has resorted to threatening independent developers in a dual effort to either gain money or to avenge the name of his patent by forcibly eliciting amicus briefs and declaratory statements.
Chalk one up for the bad guys. FOSS Patents reports that Chinese manufacturer Huawei and the Rockstar Consortium (a patent holding company jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Sony, and Ericsson) have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Huawei in November. Both parties have filed to dismiss with prejudice, and have almost certainly agreed to some kind of licensing settlement, though financial details don't have to be reported.
Remote Locator Systems, LLC, a generic company incorporated in East Texas, filed a lawsuit against seven defendants recently for allegedly violating one of its patents. That patent can be found here. They've also filed against Google, Apple, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.
The gist is this - some company in the late 90's thought up the idea of equipping an entire hospital with IR receivers and then putting IR blasters on every employee and important piece of equipment.
Patent trolling is far from a divisive issue in the United States. Pretty much everyone but the trolls can agree that patent trolling is damaging to the economy, and generally kind of a dick move. Patent trolling, if you're not familiar with the practice, is quite simple in concept: buy patents, extort licensing fees from alleged infringers, and sue if they refuse to comply. President Obama proposed some "major" changes to US law that will supposedly reduce the effectiveness of such companies.
Have you heard?! Apple now says the Galaxy S III is infringing on its patents. Woe is us!
Except, this is a.) completely unsurprising, and b.) not really important in the grand scheme of things. Yesterday, Reuters reported that Apple had tacked on the Galaxy S III (including the Verizon version specifically, for whatever reason), the Note 10.1, and the original Galaxy Note to its upcoming California lawsuit against Samsung. And yes, they'll probably add the Galaxy Note II just as soon as Samsung gets around to releasing it here in the US.
According to Bloomberg, Motorola Mobility has just filed a new lawsuit against Apple at the ITC. Now, ordinarily, we might not report on the filing of such a suit - especially when the complaint hasn't been made public (we have basically zero details). What makes this particular filing important, though, is that it is the first lawsuit filed by Motorola now that it is officially, 100% a part of Google.
With Samsung and Apple's California trial scheduled for Monday, more and more information is being unearthed about the parties' respective claims. Yesterday, though, AllThingsD parsed out a few pieces of evidence from an unedited version of Apple's filing (not publicly available) that look quite bad for Samsung. I'll just quote them as they appear, because they really don't need much context:
- In February 2010, Google told Samsung that Samsung’s “P1” and “P3” tablets (Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1) were “too similar” to the iPad and demanded “distinguishable design vis-à-vis the iPad for the P3.”
- In 2011, Samsung’s own Product Design Group noted that it is “regrettable” that the Galaxy S “looks similar” to older iPhone models.
OK, before I even get into this post, let me be clear: this is based on old news. However, it was news that no one seemed to pick up at the time, and when we discovered it, we thought it was quite interesting.
If you're unfamiliar with Lodsys, let's start with a history lesson. They're better known as the shell corporation offspring of a company called Intellectual Ventures LLC, a patent clearinghouse owned by a group of, shall we say, enterprising individuals.